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NEW: Submit nominations for the 2019 Common Reading: The Power of Stories

Each year, a new university theme is chosen, and the common reading for incoming first-year students relates to this theme. Our 2018-19 theme, resilience, is explored in the newest common reading anthology, Resilience

Members of the Class of 2022 should read Resilience over the summer. It is distributed at Preview Days, with individual articles available on mySU. Complete the related assignment before arriving on campus.

Here is a glimpse of what's included in this year's common reading anthology:

  • "On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus" by Jessica Bennett
  • Excerpt from Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
  • "En La Calle San Sebastián" by Martín Espada
  • "Why Some People Are More Resilient Than Others" by Denise Cummins
  • "Gender equality, resilience to climate change, and the design of livestock projects for rural livelihoods" (2015) by Nicola J.C. Chanamuto and Stephen J.G. Hall
  • "The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print is Far From Dead" by Alexandra Alter
  • "Resilience in Immigrant and Refugee Families" by Jennifer Doty
  • Letter from WWI soldier Désiré Edmond Renault translated by Amanda DuCharme
  • "Black Men Emerging" by Derrick R. Brooms
  • "The Profound Emptiness of ‘Resilience'" by Parul Sehgal
  • "Resilience: Surfing the Waves with Style," excerpt from The Mindful Twenty-Something by Holly B. Rogers
  • Excerpt from Get in the Game by Cal Ripken Jr.

Common Reading Lectures

Holly B. Rogers, MD
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018—7:30 p.m.
Rogers is a developer of the Koru Mindfulness® program, founder of the Center for Koru Mindfulness® and a psychiatrist at Duke University.

Derrick R. Brooms, Ph.D.
Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018—7:30 p.m.
Brooms is an associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at the University of Cincinnati. 

Martín Espada, JD
Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018—7:30 p.m.
Espada is a poet, editor, essayist and translator. He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Common Reading Program

To help us get to know you better, we are asking you to write a true story—a personal tale!—of failure and resilience.

Your story will be collected in Perspectives or Global Business Perspectives on the first day you meet for class. Keep in mind that the assignment will help introduce you to your instructor. In your story, you could include some or all of the following: where you are from, your family, your interests, circumstances or events that have influenced who you are, what matters to you personally or academically.

Importantly, in your story, you should draw connections between your experience(s) and at least two texts you have read in Common Reading: Perspectives on Resilience. You might draw inspiration from social scientist Jennifer Doty's article on resilience in immigrant families. Connect with students in Jessica Bennett's article on "failure" as a matter of course at college. Find yourself in the young Black men interviewed by sociologist Derrick R. Brooms. Think about how failure can make you stronger through mindfulness, as taught by psychiatrist Holly B. Rogers. Look to baseball star Cal Ripken's stories about losing game after game the year his father was fired from the Orioles.

Write in your own voice. Even though this is an academic assignment, your tone should be closer to a personal essay than a formal essay. This is our chance to hear what you think about Susquehanna University's 2018-2019 theme of resilience. The assignment should be typed, double-spaced, and 2-3 pages long. You do not need a works cited page, but as you will be paraphrasing (or quoting directly) from the book, please put last names of authors and page numbers in parentheses whenever referencing them in your story. Here's an example of how to do this: To sum up what I've been saying, "I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again" (Sandberg, 34).

Resilience by Dr. James Pomykalski, Associate Professor of Information Systems

Failure, loss, heartbreak, disappointment: such experiences challenge us to recover; to develop; to show resilience.

We all face times where we have choices. One choice is to give up, and another is to find a way to recover. Natural systems and communities must be rebuilt after deaths, accidents, and/or disasters. People experience failure and sorrow. How do they recover?

By reflecting on resilient people and systems, we can examine the characteristics that lead to a resilient life or nature.

The goal of the Common Reading Program is to create a shared academic experience and point of discussion for first-year students.

You'll read a common text that will be used in a variety of ways during your first semester on campus, including during Welcome Week. We hope the common reading assignment will engage you in lively conversations will challenge you to think critically.

It's your first introduction to life in a community of learners, where we are all engaged in discussion and reflection on texts and ideas. Faculty and staff also read the common reading and find ways to use it in the classroom, in the residence halls, in administrative offices, over lunch and more.

The anthology will be available in hard copy this May.

The collection of readings related to the yearlong university theme of conflict.

Members of the Class of 2021 read this anthology and completed the related assignment before arriving on campus.

  • Barack Obama's remarks from the 2016 commencement ceremony at Howard University
  • Satire from The Onion: "Hundreds Killed in Brutal Pro-Something-Anti-Something Clash"
  • The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
  • New historical analysis by Jason Johnson, "'An ugly piece of work': Cold War conflict on the German frontline"
  • Ross Gay's poem, "A Small Needful Fact"
  • Danez Smith's poem, "juxtaposing the black boy and the bullet"
  • A visual essay by artist and entrepreneur Gabriel Lacktman, "Growing Up with Graffiti: Reflections on Transitioning from a Part-Time Felon to a Full-Time Artist, and Then Back Again"
  • "Invasion of the Taxi Snatchers: Uber Leads an Industry's Destruction" by journalist Brad Stone
  • "A Sociological History of Soccer Violence" by journalist Tiffanie Wen
  • An article from the Journal of Counseling Psychology titled "Does Self-Stigma Reduce the Probability of Seeking Mental Health Information?"
  • Jyoti Jaggernath's research on "Women, climate change and environmentally induced conflicts in Africa"
  • SU alum Melissa Goodrich's short story Moon Tale
  • Film analysis by Ajay Parasram titled "Race, Class, and Gender at the Margins: Exploring My Name Is Khan"
  • An article by NPR's Hanna Rosin titled "How A Danish Town Helped Young Muslims Turn Away From ISIS
  • The concluding chapter from interfaith activist Eboo Patel's book Sacred Ground


I have been at Susquehanna for over 15 years, and throughout this time I have heard talk of, and seen evidence of, the conflict-averse nature of the Susquehanna community. It is sometimes commented upon with pride, but more often with a concerned, yet grudging acceptance. This is an ironic position for an academic community since many of the greatest breakthroughs in the development of knowledge did not happen without some conflict. While violent conflict is most often destructive, intellectual conflict can be a fruitful exercise. Exploring this topic on Susquehanna's campus could lead us to a deeper understanding of the challenges posed by conflict as well as the positive role that conflict can play in our world, our campus community, and our lives. -Associate Professor of Political Science Michele DeMary, excerpt from her university theme proposal


Theme: Conflict
Speaker: Hanna Rosin, journalist and co-host of NPR's Invisibilia


Theme: Passion
Speaker: Natalie Zemon Davis, author of A Passion for History and professor of history at the University of Toronto


Theme: Adventure
Speaker: Edwidge Danticat, author of Krik? Krak!


Theme: Humor
Speaker: John Morreal, author of Humor Works


Theme: Technology in our Lives
Speaker: Brian Christian, author of The Most Human Human


Theme: Freedom and Responsibility
Speaker: Lori Andrews, author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy


Theme: Fear
Speaker: David Ropeik, author of How Risky Is It, Really? Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts


Theme: A Sustainable Future
Speaker: Chris Uhl, author of Developing Ecological Consciousness: Path to a Sustainable World


Theme: What does it mean to be educated?
Speaker: AJ Jacobs, author of A Year of Living Biblically


Theme: Memory
Speaker: Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier


Theme: Water
Speaker: Fred Pearce, author of When the Rivers Run Dry: Water - the Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century


Theme: On the Fringes
Speaker: Eric Schlosser, author of Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market